After a few minutes of blinking, my eyes adjusted to being open. There was a sparkling in my peripheral with every beat of my heart, which was beating faster than normal. There was a pounding in my skull and my body hurt all over. I was laying on my side and shaking. I raised up to see where I was.
The mattress I was laying on was bare, sheet-less. Behind me, sunlight was streaming around the edge of black-out curtains. Something smelled bad.
That something was me.
I didn't recognize the bedroom I was in. And I couldn't remember the day before.
Light assaulted my sensitive eyes, as someone opened a door and walked in. I squinted.
"How you feel?"
Letting out my breath, I shut my eyes as I recognized Andrew's voice. "Like hell." My mouth was dry and there was a bad taste in it.
The bed dipped as he sat down on the edge.
"Where are we?" I couldn't remember where I was suppose to be. I'd probably told my mom I was staying at Brittany's. Again.
He laughed, "Matt's house."
"What time is it?"
He rubbed his head. "You can't handle whiskey for shit."
My eyes had adjusted and I looked down at my clothes. I felt damp in places. Vomit.
He saw me examining myself. "Keeping you over the toilet wasn't the easiest job."
"Thanks for trying." I rolled onto my back and tried to breathe. The pain in my head was going to crack it open.
"You also took a pretty nasty fall down the stairs."
Well, that explained the pain.
Andrew stood and grabbed my arms, "We don't have a lot of time left before Matt's parents get back." He hauled me to my feet.
The room spun. With his hands on my shoulders, he held me still while my eyes tried to regain equilibrium.
"I have some clothes you can wear, I've got to wash yours."
I glanced at the bare mattress. "Did I-"
"Throw up there too?" He laughed and nodded.
I winced. "Sorry."
"No more whiskey for you."
He left the room and brought back a change of clothes. I changed in the bathroom, nearly knocking myself out on the sink.
With cowboys and Indians duking it out on the TV, I was force fed Ibuprofen and Gatorade. I had only a wash and dry cycle to sober up.
As soon as the dryer buzzed with my clothes, I changed back and we made sure the sheets were back on and the bed was made. All other evidence that there had been a party here last night had been scrubbed away. Andrew threw the last of the trash and bottles into a trash bag and threw it over his shoulder. We locked the door and he threw the bag into the bed of his truck.
Andrew and I understood each other without saying much. Neither of us ever wanted to go home. He just wanted to be done with high school and his parents. I wanted to be done with life, drinking my way to oblivion. I was a failing sophomore and he was a senior, with a turbulent on-and-off-again relationship with a girl in my class. His parents had just kicked him out for wrecking his dad's truck, so he was secretly sleeping in my basement. Mine were trying to buffer me with psych meds. I'd been dumped a year before by his younger brother, who'd been shipped off to military school for stabbing a kid, for refusing to go to third base.
The cold Colorado air filled the cab of the truck when I cracked the passenger window. I laid my hot forehead against the chilled glass.
The woods we passed were lifeless and still. I had no plan, and was on the fast track to flunking out of high school. I liked alcohol a little too much. Blacking out was the only time I felt no fear. And I was scared. I'd been scared my whole life. Almost sixteen, but afraid my life was over before it had even begun. I was afraid to leave the chaos of my mom's home. Afraid of leaving her in it. Afraid of a life outside of the only one I knew.
Andrew lit a cigarette and smoke filled the cab as he cracked his window.
I didn't want to go home.
We turned into my neighborhood and Andrew handed me his cigarette. I took a drag and held it in.
He looked over at me, "Why don't you just go live with your dad, like Kim?"
The smoke escaped with my reply, "I don't know."
Before handing the cigarette back, I took one more drag. He stopped the truck at the bottom of the hill that led up to my house.
"You can do better than this."
"It's not that easy."
He tossed a stick of gum into my lap. "It's not that hard either."
Andrew drove off leaving me to walk up the hill to my house. Maybe he was right, leaving wasn't as hard as I was making it out to be. But I was scared. I'd become used to the chaos, the darkness of my life, and instead of running for the nearest exit, I was complacent to sit in it.
Existing in the brokenness, my brokenness was camouflaged. If I left this place for a life outside of this one, I wouldn't be able to hide my cracks.